By Rose Driscoll
Special to The Vindicator
The students and young professionals who call Youngstown their hometown are coming back, and they’re bringing home new and unique tastes. But whether they have come back to spend the weekend with their families or to get new jobs, they are going to find alternative cuisines, hip coffee shops and dive bars that are ready to compete with restaurants and nightspots in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York City and Washington, DC. These spots welcome the ex-pat crowds and anyone who calls Youngstown home. Stop in a few times and soon you’ll be a regular and greeted by name.
Bombay Star — Boardman
Indian food has become one of the trendiest tastes across the country. Bombay Star, on Boardman-Poland Road, has become popular for its flavorful but inexpensive dishes. Indian folk music and decor complete this ethnic experience. If Indian cuisine is a favorite where you’re posted now, take some hometown friends to try it at Bombay Star. Hit the lunch buffet, available daily, so that you can get a taste of everything.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Ely’s To Go — Boardman
Ely’s To Go, on Western Reserve Road, serves up delicious smoothies and “food for a lighter footprint,” using locally grown produce (during Ohio’s growing season) to make tasty vegan foods. “It’s sometimes 7 miles from the ground to the table,” says owner Ely Pugh. The regular crowd is made up of everyone from health-conscious adults to very young kids, and students who take advantage of a 25 percent discount. Although the food is wrapped and ready to go, Ely’s also features a homey dining room with books on vegan eating and sustainable living.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
One Hot Cookie — Youngstown
Owner Bergen Giordani greets her customers by asking, “Have you been here before?” One Hot Cookie, which opened in April 2013, quickly became a favorite with local students as well as the after-dinner and late-night crowds downtown. One Hot Cookie in Erie Terminal Place serves cookies (of course) but also ice cream, cakes and coffee. One Hot Cookie makes a sweet ending to a night out, because — ingeniously — it’s open until the early mornings on the weekends. “It’s a niche thing that Youngstown didn’t have but was ready for,” said Giordani.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday, 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
AngeNetta’s — Canfield
The Italian food of the Mahoning Valley is famous, and AngeNetta’s serves up these warm, comforting foods of your hometown in a family atmosphere. The bakery boasts both classic and imaginative cakes baked on the premises by Angela Briceland, the daughter of owners Phyllis and Tony Olin. Although the restaurant has been open since November 2002, it has just been approved to start serving cocktails and has a renovated dining room to accommodate large parties. AngeNetta’s is perfect for lunch or dinner with your family.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Joe Maxx Coffee Company — Youngstown
Since it opened in November of 2011, the coffee shop draws young families and downtown workers. Most of these customers are regulars who owner Mike Avey greets by name. “From the quality of the roast and the milk to the quality of the baristas’ training, we compare favorably against any local or national coffee shops,” Avery said. But the counter full of pamphlets advertising community events as well as posters in the window show more benefits of patronizing this local coffee shop.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Mocha House — Boardman and Warren
If you’re thinking of grabbing a latte or cappuccino, skip Starbucks and get some real local flavor at the Mocha House. The Mocha House Cafe, in Tiffany Plaza in Boardman and on High Street in Warren, has been pouring specialty coffee and tea drinks and often provides a uniquely tasty pastry or cake to go with it. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches and milkshakes that make a great lunch in the middle of a busy day, and its daily specials are perfect for dinner. Warren’s location also hosts live music on Saturday nights.
Warren Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Boardman Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Friends Roastery — Youngstown and Salem
Friends Roastery serves its own unique blends of freshly roasted and ground coffee and fresh morning pastries. The old storefront on East State Street in Salem includes old theater seats and antique shelving with cigars and framed photos of local sports teams. Friends is committed to promoting community interactions, so it provides local newspapers as well as wireless access so that customers can discuss the latest news. The new location in downtown Youngstown promises to do the same, while providing customers with the strongest coffee in the Valley.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
Rust Belt Brewing Company Tap House — Youngstown
Since the Tap House opened in December 2012, we can enjoy locally brewed Rust Belt in its own home. Rust Belt’s flavors are supplemented by a few other choice beers and liquors, chosen with a commitment to buying local. Friendly expert bartenders are ready to suggest and serve the best drinks for you. The Tap Room already has a regular crowd of beer connoisseurs and hipsters.
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday.
Knox Building — Youngstown
This historic downtown building has been converted into an art gallery featuring local artists. The Knox pairs award-winning burgers with mixed drinks, wines and craft beers. A nightclub in the location of the old Lemon Grove standby hosts DJs and live bands on its extensive dance floor every weekend, and the new arcade upstairs takes this from your average bar to a total entertainment destination. Stay on the lookout for band lineups and video-game competitions in the future.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.